cover image Mortal Remains in Maggody

Mortal Remains in Maggody

Joan Hess. Dutton Books, $18.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-525-93368-7

In this lively addition to the Maggody series, movie fever and dreams of stardom grip the Arkansas village while police chief Arly Hanks ( Madness in Maggody ) hunts for a local arsonist. Glittertown Productions comes to town to film what what they bill as a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet , but what seems more like an X-rated production for the hard-core trade. The actors stay at the motel owned by Arly's mother, Ruby Bee, giving her a front seat to the subsequent momentous events, including the bloody murder of once-famous actress Kitty Kaye, now reduced to Glittertown roles, and the disappearance of her actor husband, mostly known for his TV commercials. While the sleazy director and producer pushes on with the film, Arly uncovers evidence implicating company members--the similar murder of the wife of another Glittertown actor, various cases of blackmail and other unpleasantnesses. Meanwhile, Arly is stalked by a mentally disturbed arsonist seeking a human sacrifice. Hess upholds the standards for her generally amusing series, with serious touches providing a necessary ballast. And some of the scenes of Hollywood meeting the Ozarks are extremely funny. (Nov.)